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When tactical technology becomes board-level strategy

September 9, 2016

The good use of technology has become business critical to all modern organisations.  20 years ago, something that was ‘nice to have’, like a mobile app or a global payment system, can now be the difference between success and failure. That is still a very simplistic view of the situation – technology now permeates every area of the modern business. It can change how employees behave, how customers engage with your products and services, and how you make decisions at every level. Despite this, IT decisions are still often treated as an operational function of the business, rather than a strategic one.  Boards and Management Teams decide where the business is going and in larger organisations at least, IT Directors or Chief Technical Officers then try to adapt the technology they have to support these choices. In smaller organisations, where there isn’t an IT department often the technology support is outsourced or cobbled together in-house.

The fact remains – technology is most often seen as tactical tool rather than a strategic driver. Of course this is not just true of the IT function; Marketing and HR departments are often regarded the same way. The only ‘operational’ area of a business that regularly makes it to the Boardroom is the Finance department. However, in this digital age that we all regularly acknowledge has ‘changed everything’, we now need to change how we approach strategic decision-making, because if you put technology at the heart of your organisation, several things can happen:

  1. Scalability and automation will become inbuilt into your decisions – the intrinsic nature of technology is that it creates repeatable processes.
  1. Measurement will be more detailed, and more meaningful, because you will understand what is possible. This also means your decision-making will be better.
  1. New solutions will be proposed and considered, or rejected, much earlier on.
  1. Risks and costs will be identified, and mitigated, sooner.
  1. Technology will begin to unite the different areas of your business – because using it is the one thing that they all have in common.
  1. You will become more proactive, identifying future shifts in technology and how you want to use it, before it happens, rather than after the fact.
  1. IT will not just be functional, it will be creative, and a chance to consider innovative ways to do things differently, and better.
  1. And that creativity, will also be practical – because technology is about actually getting things done.
  1. Your IT support (internal or external) can understand your business better; overcoming the cliché of the disengaged techy in the dark corner will be a thing of the past.
  1. Equally, you will also understand your technology better. Business leaders have a clear grasp of their resources, their margins and their pricing; they now need to understand the opportunities and benefits of their own technology. While some do, many don’t, still regarding IT as a ‘dark art’!

Some businesses have taken step to embrace strategic IT and they are benefiting from it, gaining competitor advantage and foresight that is helping them to grow and thrive. For organisations that haven’t yet decided that they need a holistic technology strategy, it’s time to consider it.

At C5 we offer a Virtual IT NED services for clients that want their IT to include strategic guidance, not just operational activity. This can include support and high-level expert thinking on anything from your overarching IT Strategy to formulating your Cyber Security Policy, or creating ways to deal efficiently with new regulations and compliance.  We provide advice on how to enhance what you are already doing and guidance on best practice. Our aim is to work with your team, using technology to assist in creating a positive impact for your business.